Eurocities annual conference 2020: Reinventing cities – beyond the urban crises

23 September 2020

Our very first online Eurocities annual conference and AGM will take place on 4 and 5 November.

It is happening at a time when a new reality is taking shape in cities, in Europe and globally. Cities have been the hardest hit by the pandemic as well as the social and economic consequences. It is also in cities that the urgency of dealing with other major challenges such as climate change stands out very clearly.

In the face of competing crises, what can city leaders do to set a new course? How can we reshape the city to match new needs? In the aftermath of the corona pandemic, the daily functioning of the city as we know it is challenged. When teleworking becomes the new normal, suburbs and the countryside, where life is more affordable and healthier, could be the winners. When restaurants, shops and offices are closing, the city loses some of its main revenues. When culture and entertainment, gastronomy and tourism are threatened, the attractiveness of the city is at risk. Is this ‘the death of the city’, as some already predict?

The biggest EU budget ever is on the table to pull Europe out of the crisis, by investing in a green, just and digital transformation – also in cities. And a new policy framework for a European Green Deal is in the pipeline, with direct implications on urban policies for green, inclusive and connected cities. But is the EU doing enough to support its urban areas in times of crises? Or can we think of new ways of working together to move beyond the crises and coming out of it stronger together?

At our Eurocities’ annual conference we want to explore the pathways for recovery and resilience and learn about what cities are doing to face more challenges ahead.


(as of 27/10/2020)

Wednesday, 4 November
10.00-11.30: Future cities – do cities have a future? 

Cities have always been reinventing themselves and this quality is needed now more than ever. Today, cities are facing critical changes as a result of numerous crises, be they related to climate change, migration or the economic and societal changes due to Covid-19. With the trend for more teleworking, a hunger for green spaces, an awareness and polarisation on subjects like rising sea levels and exploitation, our cities, as the hub where people congregate, are feeling the effects.

City leaders are faced with managing the future of our cities. They need to apply planning and foresight to the current crisis to see the opportunities and handle the transformation that our cities will need to survive and prosper.

In this session we will take a look at the trends, debate the challenges and hear from thought leaders on the future of cities.

The keynote will be given by Greg Clark, global advisor on future cities.

Speakers currently confirmed

  • Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol
  • Juan Mari Aburto, mayor of Bilbao
  • Johanna Rolland, mayor of Nantes
  • Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona
  • Klára Dobrev, European Parliament vice president
  • Jan Vapaavuori, mayor of Helsinki
  • Ricardo Rio, mayor of Braga
  • Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, mayor of Gdansk
  • Emil Boc, mayor of Cluj-Napoca
  • Zdeněk Hřib, mayor of Prague
  • Anna König Jerlmyr, president of Eurocities, mayor of Stockholm
15.15-16.45: A stronger future: resilient cities

How can cities – and Europe – stand stronger in the face of future crises? How can we reinforce the resilience of urban areas to mitigate the impact of a crisis for citizens? The European Commission has at the start of its mandate sharpened its focus on foresight, including for urban challenges and has published its first foresight report in September 2020 to inform policy developments and priority actions at EU level. At the same time, many cities are using the moment of crisis to rethink their future and develop different scenarios for urban development, supporting local policy makers to take charge of the main challenges and to avoid past pitfalls.

In this session, we will discuss how the EU and cities can align efforts, making Europe future-fit and more resilient in times of crisis. The debate will look at the main urban challenges ahead and how cities are preparing to tackle them. This session will contribute to promoting urban thought leadership on increased resilience across Europe as an essential outcome of the crisis.

Keynote by Maroš Šefčovič, Commission vice president, on foresight and resilience.

Speakers currently confirmed are

  • Minna Arve, mayor, Turku
  • Vasileios Foivos Axiotis, deputy mayor, Athens
  • Mathias De Clercq, mayor, Ghent
  • Peter Kurz, mayor, Mannheim
  • Pascal Smet, state secretary, Brussels Capital Region
  • Pia Pakarinen, deputy mayor, Helsinki
  • Thomas Fabian, deputy mayor, Leipzig
  • Fiona Twycross, deputy mayor, London
  • Diana Filippova, advisor to the mayor of Paris
  • Lina Liakou, Resilient Cities Network
Thursday, 5 November
10.00-11.30: Green and just recovery in cities

The pandemic and crisis have reinforced the political ambition in Europe for a green, just and digital transition and recovery. The new EU budget – the biggest ever – promises to go some way in supporting the deep societal transformations which are needed. Still, it is likely to be just a drop in the ocean in terms of future investment needs, and everyone will need to think out of the box to reach climate neutrality by 2050. The green transition will not take off without massive financing capacity. How can we align financial investments with the needs in cities to achieve the EU objectives of decarbonisation? How can cities build bankable pipelines of sustainable projects fit for private investments?

This session will look at long term investment needs in cities, how to attract private investments and new business models to address the leading question: how can we finance a green, just and digital transition in urban areas?

Keynote by Anna König Jerlmyr, mayor of Stockholm and Eurocities president

Speakers currently confirmed are

  • Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow
  • Belit Onay, mayor of Hanover
  • Päivi Laajala, mayor of Oulu
  • Anna König Jerlmyr, mayor Stockholm
  • Jeanne Barseghian, mayor of Strasbourg
  • Mihhail Kölvart, mayor of Tallinn
  • Ritva Viljanen, mayor of Vantaa
  • Katrin Habenschaden, deputy mayor of Munich
  • Helène Dromain, vice president Grand Lyon
  • Margarida Marques, MEP
  • Robert Westerdahl, partner at Material Economics
11.30-12.30: Eurocities AGM – Eurocities members only
14.30-16.00: Speednetworking sessions – Eurocities members only



for Eurocities members (prior login required)

for non-Eurocities members


Nicola Vatthauer Director for Events, Planning & Statutory Affairs